I’m continuing with a list of the films I watched, except this this time with a theme, focusing on thirteen horror movies.
Movie #133/ 1970s Movie #14: Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979- English language version)
This was the Herzog/ Kinski/ Adjani/ Ganz version of the Murnau classic. It’s an art film shot largely like a period drama, which makes Kinski’s vampire initially seem like a weird intruder, an entirely appropriate artistic choice. It takes some interesting turns, especially when Nosferatu reaches Germany, and we see the effects of the “plague.” It was shot in German and in English- I watched the English version, which was perfectly fine. This is easily one of the strongest takes on the Dracula story, and probably the best made by people who are still alive today.
Movie #134/ New Movie #96/ 1970s Movie #15: A Bay of Blood
An over the top 1970s slasher film with more victims than usual, and more people willing to murder those around them in an argument about real estate.
Movie #135/ New Movie #97/ 1970s Movie #16/ French Film #8: The Demons
I think I mistook Jesus Franco’s film for another European film with a similar name (the one produced by Dario Argento in 1985.) This one about the hunt for the descendants of a witch, and two sisters’ responses is a lot pornier than I expected, although it does cover the hypocrisy of the establishment well. The soundtrack is excellent.
Movie #136/ 2000s Movie #15: Trick ‘r Treat
A nicely produced take on interrelated stories in a small city in Ohio, even if the idea of all of this stuff happening at once further stretches credulity. It’s a lot of fun, and it certainly doesn’t drag.
Movie #137/ 1930s Movie #12: Dracula (1931- Spanish Edition)
The Spanish language version of the Bela Lugosi Dracula that was filmed at night using the same sets and many of the same costumes is a pretty decent horror classic. The camerawork is impressive, as the director was more interested in making a film than adapting a play, and made some changes based on dailies of the English language version. It’s half an hour longer, so many of the scenes have room to breathe, and quite a few of the performances are strong. This version of Renfield (Dracula’s mad assistant) is more manic and conflicted. The Van Helsing has gravitas enough to carry a film. Lupita Tovar’s female lead (named Eva in this film) gives the sense of someone transforming. Carlos Villarías’ Dracula is comparatively bland.
Movie #138/ 1930s Movie #13: The Mummy (1932)
Structurally different from what I expected (the mummy pops up in bandages early in the film, but then takes a different form.) The sets are decent in a story about explorers and ancient conflicts, with leads who find themselves out of their element against an unexpected type of enemy.
Movie #139/ New Movie #98/ 1950s Movie #13: Creature from the Black Lagoon
The story’s a bit generic (a lot of King Kong and The Mummy with the kidnapping of the girl, and the theme of modernity vs the unknown) but the setting makes for a decent story of explorers versus a new kind of monster.
Movie #140/ New Movie #99/ 1960s Movie #13: The Revenge of Frankenstein
The second Hammer Frankenstein is an unconventional sequel in that Peter Cushing’s scientist is the villain rather than the monster (who doesn’t even pop up, although there is a new attempt at creating life.) Cushing’s mad scientist is well above-average, and the rest of the cast plays off him well. The sets are fantastic.
Movie #141/ 1930s Movie #14: The Old Dark House
Gloomy atmospheric and fun story of travelers stuck in a very strange old house. The sets are incredible, and the mystery takes some interesting turns. I’ll note I did not see the restored version.
Movie #142/ New Movie #100/ 1930s Movie #15: Secret of the Blue Room
This was one of the more obscure of the early Universal horror films, though it’s more of a locked door mystery. The first half sets up the mystery of a seemingly haunted room, and the disappearance of a schmuck who wants to stay there to prove his courage for the girl he loves. Then the detectives get involved, and the story gets a bit blander, although there is an interesting lack of clarity on what exactly happened twenty years ago.
Movie #143/ New Movie #101/ 1940s Movie #13: The Ghost Train
I admit it’s a stretch to list this as horror. Vaudevillian Arthur Askey’s lead turns this film about passengers stranded in a haunted train station into the comedy genre, although it’s a stretch for the subject matter. The most interesting parts about the film are the matter of fact treatment of life in World War 2 Britain.
Movie #144/ New Movie #102/ 1970s Movie #17/ Criterion Edition #26: Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
This surrealist fable is full of spectacular imagery, and a story that is intentionally vague, mysterious and more than a little perverted, although with tremendous artistic merit in depicting a teenager’s subconscious nightmares.
Movie #145/ 1930s Movie #16: The Invisible Man
I decided to finish with this one because The Old Dark House renewed my appreciation for director James Whale. His take on the Invisible Man is iconic and fun, with Claude Rains giving the unseen character an appropriate level of menace and insanity.
And a ranking.
- 13. The Ghost Train
- 12. The Secret of the Blue Room
- 11. A Bay of Blood
- 10. The Demons
- 9. Creature From the Black Lagoon
- 8. The Mummy
- 7. The Old Dark House
- 6. The Revenge of Frankenstein
- 5. Trick r’ Treat
- 4. The Invisible Man
- 3. Dracula (Spanish Edition)
- 2. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
- 1. Nosferatu the Vampyre